The Democrats: A lasting majority?

America's shifting demographics may have ushered in an era of dominance for the Democratic Party.

Told you so, said Ruy Teixeira in A decade ago, my co-author, John Judis, and I predicted in our book, The Emerging Democratic Majority,that the “shifting demographics” of America would usher in an era of dominance for the Democratic Party. That era began last Tuesday. Despite a moribund economy and a fired-up and well-funded opposition, Democrats not only retained the White House but gained seats in the House and Senate. Why? They got lopsided support from minorities, single women, and educated professionals—three demographic blocs whose numbers will only grow in coming years. Obamacare will add to the Democrats’ advantage, said Alan Draper in By 2016, at least 30 million newly insured Americans “are likely to identify with the Democratic Party who provided these benefits.” At the same time, younger voters lean left on social issues such as gay rights. Add it all up, and we could be looking at “a new Democratic majority for the foreseeable future.”

Be “highly skeptical” of such predictions, said Megan McArdle in Teixeira and Judis wrote their book in 2002, and in 2004 and 2010, the Democrats were “crushed” at the polls. Democrats barely won this year, even though the stiff and flip-flopping Romney was “a uniquely bad candidate.” Now President Obama and the Democrats have to address the deficit and the looming entitlement crisis, which will force them to own “some very, very tough choices” that will pit seniors, the young, and the middle class against one another, and pry some of them loose from the Democrats’ grip. By 2016, Obama will be out of the picture, said Abe Greenwald in We’ll see how Democrats do without the “personality cult” that won them the last two elections.

Obama’s personal popularity did play a major role in those victories, said Ross Douthat in The New York Times. But so did the vision he presented of an “activist government” that fights for minorities, women, and the embattled middle class. Republicans, meanwhile, remain nostalgic for Ronald Reagan’s “small government” message of the 1980s, which appeals to a shrinking minority of the electorate. As a conservative, it pains me to admit it, but Obama has won that argument for the next four years and perhaps beyond. “The age of Reagan is officially over. Our era now clearly belongs to the Obama Democrats.”

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up
To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us